Which three butters did I use?
- Firstly. I bought a supermarket own butter. This was from Asda. The packaging states that the butter is from British dairy farms and contains a minimum of 80% milk fat. It is an unsalted butter and cost just 79p.
- Secondly, I chose a butter from a well known creamery here in the UK, Wensleydale Creamery. It is made in the Yorkshire Dales where is it traditionally churned. It is described as 'rich and creamy'. The fat content is shown as 82.2% and the 250g block cost £1.60. As this is a salted butter I added a pinch of salt to the other two batters to make the experiment a fairer comparison .
- Lastly, I purchased a French butter called President. I have read in a few places of the quality of French butters and the flavours they bring to baked goods. The wrapper informs us that this butter was made in the heart of Normandy with the 'finest milk and cream'. It states that it is 'delicious in sponge cakes or buttercream and perfect for savoury pastries and sauces'. The fat content is shown as 82% and it cost £1.55. This is an unsalted butter.
How I went about the 'Butter Quality Side-by-Side Baking Experiment':
'volunteer' taste testers were assembled, including myself. I explained to each of my tasters the principal behind this side-by-side bake and asked them to simply identify which cake they preferred. The identity of the specific cakes hadn't been divulged to
them. Only I knew which cupcake was which, so my tasters sampled them
blind, so to speak.
enhanced flavour to a simple bake. This said, as the winning
Wensleydale Creamery butter is over 100% more expensive than the
supermarket own butter I know I shalln't be using it every time I don my
pinny, espcially as I usually bake around twice a week. However, when
I'm purchasing products to bake for a special occasion I now know that
it is worth pushing the boat out to purchase a quality butter.
What I have learnt:
- The PH and acid values of the cream used can differ.
- The butterfat level can differ slightly between different producers. As the butter's colour is largely held in the fat it seems only logical that most of the flavour is held there too (ours were a minimum of 80% in the Asda butter, 82.2% in that from the Wensleydale Creamery, and 82% in the President. I popped into a local Aldi store and noted that the fat content of their butter (priced around 79p) was 83%!)
- A natural flavour is often added to unsalted cultured butters.
- There are differences in how the butter is processed and preserved which is likely to also affect the flavour.
So let's get to it and bake!
Victoria Sponge Cakes. Yum
Yield: 3 muffin size cupcakes
Time: hands on time 20 minutes; plus 20 minutes bake time; cooling time.
Freezable: Yes, undecorated
You will need:
Electric Hand Held Beater or WoodenSpoon
Spatula or large Metal Spoon
Muffin size Paper Cases
Muffin Baking Tray
For the sponge mixture
50g Unsalted Butter
25g Golden Caster Sugar
25g Caster Sugar
1 Egg, lightly beaten
50g SR Gluten Free Flour (or regular SR flour), sieved
1 tablespoon milk
How to make them:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 190c / Fan 170c / Gas 5. Place the muffin cases into the muffin tray.
2. Make the sponge. Place
the soft butter and sugars into a good sized bowl and
beat together with a wooden spoon or electric beaters until very pale
and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg a little at a time, beating
well after each addition. Beat in the milk. Sieve the flour into the
mixture. Use a spatula or large metal spoon fold this in gently.
3. Fill the muffin cases.
Using a teaspoon, fill the cases with the batter mixture. You're
aiming for them to be half to two-thirds full. You may decide to weigh
each muffin to ensure equal sizes. Each cupcake will weigh about 64g.
Place the muffin tray in the centre of the oven and bake for about 20
minutes. You may need to rotate the tray after 15 minutes of
baking. Once baked, remove from the oven and place on a cooling tray.
5. Decorate as desired.
Once the cupcake sponges are cold decorate your bake as desired, perhaps with a water icing, butter cream or a chocolate glaze.